Relational Care Can Enrich Lives

How to Enrich the Lives of Orderlies and Residents

Relational Care Can Enrich the Lives of Staff and Residents.

Orderlies who work in assisted living and long-term care residences have a tough job.

Not only is the work physically and mentally demanding, but they have to walk a fine line because while the ‘job’ must be done, the orderly is actually there to serve the residents. He is there to help them and to listen to their human needs and not just tell them what to do, when and how.

The daily work life of an orderly would be more rewarding if they knew how to use a better approach. That is an approach that isn’t necessarily taught in primary care training.

Their level of engagement would improve, and job satisfaction would naturally improve as well.

That’s good for everyone – the employee, the residents, management, and ownership.


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Relational care and human relationships are important to everyone.

Good relationships nurture our sense of safety, security, and belonging. They contribute to our sense of purpose and significance, among other things. All of us are comforted in some way when we enjoy solid relationships with others.

In the case of orderlies working in LTC or Assisted Living residences, providing relational care means supporting the person who is living with dementia. They must be nurturing and emotionally present. They must be genuinely open and honest with them in a respectful way.

Relational care is a study in itself.

We touched on the topic simply to point out the connection between relational caring and many of the teachings of the Montessori Method Adapted for the Cognitively Impaired.

For example, the adapted Montessori method strongly promotes and encourages a focus on the preserved capacities of the person with the disease to help them maintain or regain some of the activities or motions of daily living.

It is much more beneficial for all to allow the person to do various tasks themselves, with supervision and with the patience that the relationship warrants, than to do it for them.

The adapted Montessori method also stresses the necessity and importance of providing choices and requesting permission to allow the person living with dementia to maintain some level of control over their life and their independence.

It is proven that residents are much happier and less inclined to respond in a disruptive way when they are consulted…given choices about things that affect them.

Acknowledging the human behind the dementia.

Much of what is needed for an individual to provide relational care comes from acknowledging the human behind the dementia – gaining insight by learning their life history – and that is precisely aligned with the adapted Montessori method of person-centered care.

In our experience, when residence owners and management teams decide to train their staff in the adapted Montessori method, it is with the understanding that their entire team – including many orderlies – will benefit immensely by taking away the skills needed to provide a high-quality and mutually beneficial type of care.

They know that the adapted Montessori method is highly regarded and that residences that train in the method are well positioned to create an environment where residents know and care for each other and collaborate with caregivers to sustain their environment, all while providing a healthy ROI (Return on Investment) in the process.